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Tag Archives: SQL Server

SPLA Pricing Going Up? Not on my watch

I hate when other partners promote a SPLA price increase to gain business.  Yeah, no one can control what the publisher will ultimately do and pricing is never consistent (just look at your local gas pump) but that doesn’t mean you cannot leverage use rights and other factors to lower your SPLA bill.  In this article, we will look at how SPLA partners can lower their bill regardless what Microsoft may or may not do in the future.  Here are a quick (some easy, some not so easy) ways to accomplish this.

  1. SQL Server:  How confident are you that you are licensing the most expensive product in SPLA correctly?  Let me provide an example, reporting SQL Web because of price is not a sound strategy.  Auditors look at licensing historically, when you license incorrectly for a product like SQL Web and it should’ve been Standard, you will pay an astronomically higher price in the long run.  Pay attention to your given use rights to uncover cost savings, such as SQL Enterprise for unlimited virtualization, Standard SAL licenses for multiple VM’s and Servers, etc.
  2. Administration Access:  Why report administrators?  As part of your signed SPLA agreement, you are allowed 20 admins per datacenter without the need for SPLA.  Doing a demo for your customer?  Don’t report it.  Pay attention to the use rights in your SPLA agreement, not just the SPUR.
  3. SPLA Internal Use:  If you have more external users than internal users, perhaps you should use SPLA to cover both.  As an example, if you host Exchange for 10 users, you can use up to 5 internally.  Those licenses are not free, you would report a total of 15 on your SPLA moving forward.  This entitlement is called the 50% rule which states that you cannot license more than 50% of what you are hosting, internally.  I like this because it eliminates two things: 1) if a user leaves your company, you simply do not license the user the next month.  In Volume Licensing, you own the licenses which would force you to either reassign the license to another user internally or it goes unused.  2).  You would not be required to have separate hardware for this solution.  In traditional SPLA, you must have separate hardware from what you are hosting.  If using SPLA for internal consumption, it can be on the same hardware since it follows the same use rights.
  4. Leveraging Skype for Business through Office 365:  Yeah, in many cases O365 is the big bad wolf; in other cases, it’s your best friend.  If you want to host Skype, you can sell your customers who purchased Skype O365 licenses, host it from your datacenter environment, and leverage the SAL for SA SKU.  Skype USL (Office 365 licenses) is the only product that qualifies for SAL for SA in SPLA.  If your customer purchased Skype USL licenses and are unhappy with migrating it to Microsoft datacenter, you can tell the customer that you can host it for them for little cost.  It’s much cheaper than licensing/reporting the regular Skype for Business SAL.  On the flip side, let’s say your customer purchased Exchange Online USL license, they would just need to purchase the Exchange Server with Software Assurance to leverage license mobility.   Exchange Online does not qualify for SAL for SA.
  5. Private Cloud: When the public cloud is taking up all the headlines, maybe it’s time to differentiate and create a new headline.  No one gets ahead by doing the same thing others are doing.   If Azure offers public cloud, maybe you should start offering private cloud.  In this example, private cloud is fully dedicated, isolated hardware for each individual customer.  Here are three ways this could be beneficial:
    1. Dedicated hardware does not require Software Assurance.  Your customer owns SQL 2000 or still stuck on Windows 2003?  No problem, move it to your cloud.  Try doing the same in Azure or other fully public clouds, they would need SA for those licenses.
    2. Unlimited Virtualization.  Windows does not have mobility rights, but if you were to offer dedicated servers, an end customer can transfer their Windows licenses without issue.  More importantly, if they purchased Windows Datacenter because of virtualization (which they did), they can still have unlimited virtualization rights as if they were running it on premise (still dependent upon the size of the server).  Do the same in Azure HUB, and it doesn’t quite add up.
    3. No SPLA licenses, no VDI restrictions, no CSP requirement and ease of security concerns. Kind of speaks for itself.

I understand that in many situations transitioning to a private cloud is easier said than done, but it does have tremendous licensing advantages over public clouds.  Worried about SPLA price increases or CSP?  Private cloud might be your answer.

As always, have a question on SPLA pricing, licensing, or anything else that comes to mind, email info@splalicensing.com

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

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Posted by on October 5, 2017 in In My Opinion

 

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Opinion – Microsoft audits will skyrocket in 2018

Microsoft compliance programs are not going away and will increase significantly in the coming years.  Why such a doom and gloom outlook?  In this article, I will highlight some of the reasons but more importantly the ways to stay ahead of the game before Mr. Audit comes knocking on your door.

This past week, most of my articles had to do with CSP, Azure, and more CSP.   To no surprise, CSP is the direction Microsoft is moving towards for the partner community.  Check out my friend www.csplicensing.com 🙂 Licensing is not getting easier, in fact it’s getting harder.  Check out my Azure Stack article if you don’t believe me.  That article will either put you to sleep or give you a headache.

In today’s world, a service provider is not just licensing SPLA, they are combining on premise licenses, different cloud vendors, and hybrid licenses.   Unless you focus full-time on licensing, one misstep can ruin an organization.  In the coming weeks and months, I will focus heavily on all the cloud transitions and as the title of this blog site states ‘uncover the complexities of SPLA licensing.”

So why will audits rise?   There’s two reasons: 1) Licensing is confusing.  Publishers know there’s no “one-size fits all” solution to solving all licensing complexities and scenarios.  2).  With the push towards the public cloud (such as Azure), CFO’s and owners will start to wonder why they mess with the licensing at all, especially after a large compliance settlement  from an audit.  The goal will be to move to AWS or move to Azure and let them deal with the complexities licensing.

What do you do?   Throw in the towel and say, “they win” or develop a strategy to maintain compliance and create a solution to help your customers?  My advice? Don’t throw in the towel.

  1. Develop a license management practice.  Licensing is a full-time commitment (Full-time job).
  2. Don’t cave in.  I get it, that’s easier said than done – even for SPLA Man.  I HATE confrontation in all areas of my life but compliance.  I always like to see the underdog win the audit battles.  When SPLA started, I felt it was the rest of the world v. the SPLA community.  ABS – Anything But SPLA.  I still feel that way today (even stronger).  When was the last time you talked to a representative or were offered advice to help grow your business?  I am an advocate for the hosting community and the primary reason I started this blog in the first place.  Checkout my “About” section written over 4 years ago.  Don’t get bullied into the tricks of the audit.  If you need help, ask.
  3. Eliminate risk before it becomes a risk during the audit.  Going back to point #1, create a practice, understand the areas of concern, and correct it before the auditors force you to.  The time is now.
  4. I promote 3rd party advocacy for support.  I like to say, “there’s the publisher’s way and then there’s the real way” both are compliant, but one will cost you a lot more than the other.

Will audits be on the rise in 2018?  Yes. And 2019, 2020, and 2021.  After that who knows, we might be flying around the moon and vacationing on Mars.  Licensing is a dangerous game but everyone can win – if they have the right strategy in place.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2017 in Compliance, Uncategorized

 

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CAL’s, SAL’s and Multiplexing. 101 Licensing for on premise and cloud environments

 

In this article, we will take a closer look at CAL’s and SAL’s…what they are and how to license them.  We will also look at the User Subscription License (USL) for Microsoft Online Services.

Client Access License 

A Client Access License (CAL) provides the right to access a server.  Depending on the environment and product licensed, a CAL can either be a user or a device.   Many resellers, consultants, and even Microsoft, make it a lot more complicated than it needs to be.  The biggest trick to CAL licensing is remembering it is just a “right” not a technical requirement to access the server.  In other words, you can spin up a server, users can access it (in most cases with or without a CAL) and away they go.  Sounds great, but it’s not compliant, and I would argue that is the #1 reason customer’s fall victim to compliance.

SQL is a great example of this.  When I go to my SharePoint site, I pull reports, store information, share information, and perform many other tasks.  What I don’t know is SQL is used in the background to provide access to this information.  Did I log into a SQL Server?  No.  Did I “use” SQL?  Yes.  This is where multiplexing come into play. Multiplexing uses hardware and/or software to pool connections.  The best way to know if a user needs a license (and I’ve said this before) is to ask yourself “If I remove this from my hosted solution would it still work the same as it did prior?” If you answer “no” you need a license.  If your SQL Server is licensed in the Server/CAL model, you’re required to have CALs for any User or Device that accesses that application directly or indirectly. Very few users in an organization have credentials to a SQL Server.  One way to eliminate some of the risk with SQL is to license by core.  Cores allow unlimited number of users to access the server.  If they use the server or not, they are covered.

SAL Licensing

Under SPLA there is a Subscriber Access License (SAL).  SAL’s are licensed by user only (there are very few exceptions such as desktop applications and System Center).  Like a client access license, a SAL license is not concurrent.  This is important, since other vendors are based on concurrent licensing.  SAL is like your cable bill, your provider is going to charge you regardless if you turn your TV on or not, SAL licensing works the same way.  I’ve written about this before but it’s worth repeating – SAL is for any person that HAS access not who does access.  Unlike CAL’s, there is no need to purchase a server license in SPLA.

Online Services

To add a bit more complexity, let’s review Microsoft Online Services.  If you license Exchange Online or an Office 365 Suite, you will purchase a User Subscription License (USL).  A USL provides a user access to the online solution.  Unlike a CAL and like a SAL (that’s a mouthful) you do not need a server license to access the solution if it’s online.  If you want to run anything on premise or in another third-party datacenter, you would require a server license.  In other words, if you have SharePoint Online, the USL license will provide on-premises rights (essentially CALs) in addition to their online rights. This allows for the ability to migrate over time and have hybrid environments without incurring additional cost.  Keep in mind, when you run hybrid, you do require a server license on premise.

Additionally, if you to purchase an online suite (Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Skype) you can run pieces of the suite on premise. For example, maybe you want to keep SharePoint on-premises but move Exchange to the cloud. An Office 365 Suite includes both online and on-premises rights for each product in the suite, which means you don’t have to pay for the E Suite and then buy Exchange CALs separately.   Just remember the server license!

Summary

It is very important to understand the licensing rules before purchasing any software.  There has and always will be a difference in the way in which technology can be deployed and the way it must be licensed.  Don’t waste money, time, and effort planning a cloud solution without considering the license impact.  I was on a call recently where a customer wanted to leverage their Windows Server with Software Assurance in a shared public cloud.  Unfortunately, Windows is not license mobility eligible.  They worked with a consultant or “expert” who told them one thing, but the rules state otherwise.  Yes, maybe they can take advantage of Windows HUB, but Azure unfortunately was not the right fit.  Pay attention to the license rules, it can save you.  Question?  Email info@splalicensing.com

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2017 in Office 365, SPLA General

 

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Transition SKU’s for CRM Hoster’s Available Thru October, 2019

For Dynamics hosters worried about all the changes with CRM have until October 31, 2019 to license the transition SKU’s in SPLA.

Although good news and provides some flexibility, the transition pricing is still higher than current CRM licenses.  As an example, Basic CRM SKU transition pricing for Customer Service is almost double!

Transition pricing is available to ease transition to the new Dynamics 365 pricing model.  It is also designed for current CRM customers, not new customers.  To learn more about Dynamics 365, please check out Dynamics 365 Licensing for SPLA

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

PS- Dont forget to license SQL and Windows with CRM!

 

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2017 in CRM, Dynamics 365

 

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Azure Stack, SQL Stretch Database and the Hosting Summit

Last month, Microsoft held their annual Hosting Summit in Bellevue, WA. The good news is SPLA is not going away. Last quarter marked the 20th straight QTR of double digit growth for Microsoft SPLA. What is changing is the competitive landscape. Microsoft does not see SPLA partners as a competitor per se, they see SPLA as one of the biggest competitive advantages over other cloud offerings (IBM, AWS, Google, etc). They have over 30,000 SPLA partners worldwide, and they believe they can leverage those 30,000 partners to offer different cloud solutions.

Microsoft is betting big on what they define as “hybrid cloud” and that’s where they see service providers (SPLA) playing a significant part. Hybrid cloud is not just offloading workloads from on premise to another datacenter, it’s about leveraging different technologies to deliver solutions. As an example, late last year Microsoft offered solution called “Azure Stack” You can read about it here.

It’s the same APIs and same code as what Microsoft delivers through Azure. From a licensing perspective, Azure Stack is cheaper through SPLA (Windows) than it would be to pay through consumption. It will be available to offer this summer through the hardware manufacturers but you can download it now to test out.

The other big bet is SQL, and especially around the feature of stretch database. In laymen terms, it’s taking data that is not often consumed and offloading it to the cloud, reducing resources and consumption on servers locally.   You can read more about stretch database from our friends at MSDN

All said, it was good to meet old friends and say hello to new ones at this event.  If you were at the hosting summit and you did not have the chance to meet the infamous SPLA Man, email me at info@splalicensing.com.  Would love to learn more about your offerings and how we can work together to make licensing simple.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2017 in Azure, In My Opinion, SQL 2016

 

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Epic Community Connect and SPLA

The healthcare community has increased concerns with the way they have deployed (and licensed) their electronic medical record (EMR) software such as Epic Community Connect and others.  As a reader of this blog, you know that when you deploy software for the benefit of a third party (non employee) SPLA must be part of the conversation.  The only exception to this rule is if you actually own the code to the software you are hosting.  In other words, if you developed the software, you can use your own volume licenses to host your software.  If you host a third party software (such as Epic) you must license this in SPLA.   In most cases, many healthcare companies do not own the application, but lease it from the EMR vendor.

Rewind a few years and let’s pretend you are a large hospital who partnered with Epic to provide best in class patient record management for your clients, doctors, and other clinics. Your Epic deployment resides on a Windows Server, SQL Server, and RDS.  As the IT director, you purchased several server licenses and hundreds of Client Access Licenses (CAL) to cover all the external users.  You think you are covered; no one mentions you need to license this via SPLA.  Your reseller didn’t tell you, Microsoft didn’t tell you, and for that matter the vendor didn’t tell you.  You think all is well based off the information you received.  Fast forward 3 years and your volume licensing agreement is up for renewal.  Someone on the licensing side informs you that you shouldn’t true-up licenses or renew your agreement under volume licensing, you need to license SPLA.  You think that’s fine, if you must license under a different program who are you to argue. But what about all those license you already purchased and own?  Unfortunately, you cannot return them, you must allocate those internally.  You think to yourself that’s fine, except for one minor detail…. you purchased hundreds of CALs and you do not have hundreds of employees; those license you own are essentially worthless.  On top of everything else, you just received an audit notification.

Why would they receive an audit notification?  Once a vendor recognizes you have been under-licensed, the vendor might want to dig in deeper to see how long you have been out of compliant and if you purchased enough licenses to cover all the users.  In 90% of all audits, the customer is under-licensed.  Now you own licenses you don’t need, but should’ve purchased more because you don’t own enough licenses to cover all external users initially.  The vendor will want you to pay the delta of what you should’ve paid under SPLA and what you purchased under volume licensing (plus an audit fee).

If you are a healthcare provider and have been notified by Microsoft or any other vendor, please contact us.  We have found that in many cases the licenses report is not always 100% accurate.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2016 in Compliance, EMR Software, Self Hosted

 

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Worried about Windows 2016 Cores?

Yes, it’s the talk of the town.  “Windows 2016!  Oh my!  It’s moving to cores!!!”  That part is true.  What is NOT true is even when Windows 2016 is released, it doesn’t mean you have to license by core – you can still license by processor for all 2012 and earlier editions.  The catch?  Once your agreement expires and you sign a new SPLA after October 1st (when Windows 2016 is released) you must license by core regardless which version you are running.

So what does this mean to you?  If I was a service provider that reports over 2k in Windows and SQL licenses,  I might readjust when my SPLA expires to extend processor based licensing.   Wait…What?   You can readjust when my SPLA agreement expires?  Sure.  I’m SPLA Man.  Anything is possible with SPLA Man.

Thanks for reading,

Windows 2016 Man

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2016 in Windows 2016

 

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